Supporter Clashes in Egypt Cost at Least 74 Lives
Supporter violence in the Egyptian port city of Port Said has cost the lives of at least 74 fans, Egyptian state television reports. Riots started after the referee blew the final whistle of a match between Masry and Ahly, and the home fans stormed the pitch.
The match had gone off on a quiet start, but tensions increased when a group of fans invaded the pitch at half-time. The match continued after the group was escorted out of the stadium, after which home team Masry sealed the victory in the last ten minutes of the second half. As soon as the final whistle had sounded, hundreds of fans invaded the pitch, and chased the Ahly players, who had to run for their life.
The players were able to escape, however violence broke out between the two supporters groups, which resulted in at least 73 deaths. Reports came out of the Ahly dressing room of wounded fans lying around, and Ahly goalkeeper Ekramy reported at least one death. The Ahly players came off with just a few bruises, and were eventually evecuated out of the stadium.
Egypt has had a problem with fan violence for years, and the Ahly ultras are known to be amongst the worst. However, violence seems to have been instigated by the Masry fans, and Facebook posts appear to indicate that the violence has been planned in advance.
Questions have also been raised about the role of police and security forces, who did not seem to act decisively, either because they lacked the power to do so, or to settle a score with the Ahly fans, who have repeatedly clashed with police in the recent past, and have taken an increasingly political stand. Another point of investigation will undoubtedly be why Masry fans were able to get knives and other weapons into the stadium.
The clashes will surely keep Egyptian politics busy for the next weeks, and the first high-profile resignations have already been submitted. Ahly players About Treika and Barakat have already announced their retirement from football.
The start of the riots: